Review by BigCj34

"Sega's platforming icon started with a sonicboom, almost."

Sonic the hedgehog was an exclusive to the Sega Mega Drive, launched in 1991 that simply sent the sales of the Mega Drive through the roof. Sonic the hedgehog was an ingenious platforming idea, that was the work of simplicity with an easy to remember name (come on, who doesn't remember Sonic?), blue hedgehog, something that would stick in your head for a decade. This launched the entire Sonic craze, which is constantly being re-released on new consoles in nostalgia packs.

Basically, Sonic the hedgehog is a blue hedgehog who can run at lightning speeds, always being chased by evil Scientist doctor Robotnik. In an annual I had, it said that Sonic was actually a brown hedgehog who was good friends with Dr. Kintabor. Dr. Kintobor experimented with Chaos emeralds too much and the power turned him into an evil scientist, under the reverse of his name, Dr. Robotnik who wanted to turn every creature into a robot. Sonic himself got turned blue from the power of the emeralds, and of course his speed. Sonic's quest was to go through many levels and turn the planet Mobius to the way it was before by stopping the evil Dr. Robotnik, retrieving Chaos emeralds and crushing the robots, that are basically sonic's flicky friends sealed in the robots.

So why is Sonic the Hedgehog such a good game? One reason is it's simplicity and originality of it. You have a blue hedgehog, running about the screen, through the loop-the loop holes jumping on enemies to kill them, collecting rings and if you get enough at the end of the level you enter a Super Bonus level (just, kidding, it's a Special Stage) where you have a chance to jump around in a rotating level to get a chaos emerald. Just the problem is with that is that the emeralds are all different colours.

The loop-the-loop holes you could say what boxes are to Starsky and Hutch, but the truth is you don't see many of them. In fact, Sonic the Hedgehog isn't solely about speed at all to be honest. It's a more in-depth approach where you have to pick the right way to go, and the level structure is more complex than what you may find in Super Mario. Even if you aren't going through loops, there's still plenty of curved ramps and moving platforms where you have to watch your step. You don't get forever to complete a level either, about 10 minutes, you should complete it in about 3. If you insist on speeding through the level, you'll get a high time bonus, but not many rings and you'll get to a point (like the second world) where speeding through a level is just going to cost a lot of lives.

There are six world in the game altogether (or zone's as they're called, world sounds so Super Mario) each with three levels. The first zone is Green Hill zone, with the tranquillity of the hills plus the baddies that's relatively easy. Marble Zone is more sinister where you're in an underground marble mine making it through lava pits to get to the finish at the top. Spring Yard zone is like a casino, with plenty of bouncers giving you points and trampolines to annoy you, which is followed by an incredibly frustrating zone called Labyrinth zone, an under water maze that you have to make it through. Labyrinth zone was always supposed to be a zone that separated the kids from the gamers, as Sonic doesn't last long under-water, you have to keep breathing air bubbles, and he moves a lot slower. In fact, it's not the fact you're under-water that's annoying, it's the obstacles. Believe me, if you can make it through Labyrinth zone then you can get to the end. Star Light zone's relatively easy, lots of loops in a setting high above, and Scrap Brain zone is a sinister science lab factory place that's relatively annoying, with a labyrinth style level at the end, before you take on the final boss.

Most of the level ideas have been re-used in later Sonic releases. For example, they all starts with tranquil green levels, as Sonic 2 starts off with Emerald Hill, Sonic 3 with Angel Island, etc. A Casino style level has been common place, with Casino night on 2, Carnival Night on 3, Spring Stadium on Sonic 3D, plus some evil under-water level although they never have been as bad as labyrinth. Sonic 3 gave you the water shield which meant you didn't keep having to breatehr under-water.

Each level has their own obstacles, with spikes, gaps, baddies and things that will crush you, making it the reason why you have to be careful when going through levels. At the end of each level is a special stage, a rotating level where Sonic is constantly rolled up in a ball and you have to jump through the level, avoiding the parts that say GOAL or the level ends. You want to get to the Chaos emerald located in the level.

The graphics of Sonic the Hedgehog are spot on. Of course it's not 3D or anything but the Mega Drive wasn't designed for that. The graphics are side scrolling 2D, with bright looking colours that make the game fun to play. The music fits in well, with upbeat music for Spring Yard zone, sinister slow music for Marble Zone and serious danger music for Scrap Brain zone. There is also the typical sounds when Sonic kills an enemy which have also been well made.

The game's lastability is one that'll keep you going for a while, it took me an hour and a half to complete it when I last went through it. However, when you play it for the first time you're likely to get a Game Over early on in the game, and it's one that'll keep you trying every now and then. Unfortunately, there is no save feature which was a common thing with platformers like these.

If there is anything bad about the game, it could be the way you can't save the game. Even a password system would have done nicely. Another point is that Sonic has limited moves, obviously you use the D-pad, but you won't need to touch A or B to get through the game. But aside from that Sonic the Hedgehog has all the makings of a platforming classic, it's challenging, it's rewarding and above all it's fun, it's difficult to fault this game.

So what's the score?

Graphics Bright, colourful graphics do the part for agreat platfromer 9/10
Music Fits in well with each level, memorable sound-tracks 8/10
Gameplay Fast-ish pace, but it's a platfromer where you watch what you're doing non-the-less 9/10
Lastability You'll keep coming back for it 8/10

Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog remains a true classic for the Sega Mega Drive, and really does prove how the series started off. You can pick it up for a few quids worth at Gamestation, download it, or buy it in a Sonic compilation for PS2, Game Cube or Xbox. If you like Sega, you should own this.8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/04/06

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